I bet God is sometimes astonished at how much we doubt His love and character. Time and time again He displays His faithfulness and steadfastness towards us as He shepherds us from valleys to mountaintops. Whenever we cast our minds back to the latest trial He has just helped us overcome, His presence in that dark place cannot be denied for we realise that without Him, we certainly would not have survived that period of our lives. So if that’s the case, why do we so often choose to forget the goodness of God whenever a fresh trial comes our way? It’s as though some sort of selective amnesia occurs in our minds and suddenly, like the Israelites in the wilderness, we start questioning God’s character and even going as far accusing Him of bringing us out here to perish! The human nature is quite astonishing. I guess that’s what God thought to Himself in Isaiah 49:14-16,
Yet Jerusalem says, “The Lord has deserted us; the Lord has forgotten us.”15 “Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!16 See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands. Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins.
God sounds astonished at the accusation that He had abandoned His children, the Israelites. The accusation hurt Him so deeply that His reply is a dramatic ‘Never’! Are you feeling like God has forgotten you right now? Then God’s reply to you is an emphatic ‘Never’!
As if that was not enough to convince the Israelites, God goes out of His way to liken His love for them to the love a nursing mother has for her baby. It is unnatural for a nursing mother to hear the cry of her infant and totally feel disconnected or unmoved. There is an in-built instinct in her that pulls her towards her baby to find out how she can meet their need. Likewise, God is supernaturally drawn to your cries. It’s impossible for Him to see you in distress and just not care. If an imperfect mother can love her infant so dearly, how much more will our Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly, care for us?
As though He was on trial, God continues to build His case in defense of His character by saying that even if by any chance a nursing mother will in the unlikely event choose to ignore the needs and cries of her infant, it is impossible for Him to do so. To further convince us, He says, ‘See’! He draws our attention to the proof of the depth of His love for us. That proof is a tattoo! Yes, God has been in the business of tattoos long before they became part of pop culture. But His is a different type of tattoo. He says, ‘I have written your name on the palms of my hands’. God is all-knowing. He doesn’t really need a tattoo of our names in the palm of His hands to remind Him of us. However, just so we get a clear picture of His heart, He illustrates His point by showing us where He wrote our names. He didn’t write it in a special book that might be misplaced or inaccessible in emergencies. He didn’t say a special angel wrote your name on their wings. No! God Himself chose to write your name in the palm of His hands because His hands are an integral part of who He is. In other words, you are an integral part of who God is and He carries you with Him always.
God completes His defense by saying, ‘Always in my mind is a picture of Jerusalem’s walls in ruins’. That is a profound thought. Just think about the fact that God has to run the entire universe. The galaxies, the heavens, the stars, the weather, the vegetation, the animals, the angels, the demons, and the 7 billion souls on Earth all rely on His wisdom and knowledge to run this world. Think about the level of detail involved and all the intricate balances that combine to permit life and you will marvel at the thought that you as an individual are always on His mind! Wow. What a God we serve.
So next time you feel abandoned by God, do remember that your name is tattooed on the palm of His hands and you are always on His mind no matter what. I guess David knew this when he wrote in Psalm 8:4, “what are mere mortals that you should think about them, human beings that you should care for them”? Aren’t you grateful we serve a God who cares?